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ACS Chem Biol. 2015 Jan 16;10(1):63-71. doi: 10.1021/cb500904b.

Mass spectrometry-based detection and assignment of protein posttranslational modifications.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California , San Francisco, California 94158-2517, United States.


Recent advances in mass spectrometry (MS)-based proteomics allow the identification and quantitation of thousands of posttranslational modification (PTM) sites in a single experiment. This follows from the development of more effective class enrichment strategies, new high performance instrumentation and bioinformatic algorithms with rigorous scoring strategies. More widespread use of these combined capabilities have led to a vast expansion in our knowledge of the complexity of biological processes mediated by PTMs. The classes most actively pursued include phosphorylation, ubiquitination, O-GlcNAcylation, methylation, and acetylation. Very recently succinylation, SUMOylation, and citrullination have emerged. Among the some 260 000 PTM sites that have been identified in the human proteome thus far, only a few have been assigned to key regulatory and/or other biological roles. Here, we provide an update of MS-based PTM analyses, with a focus on current enrichment strategies coupled with revolutionary advances in high performance MS. Furthermore, we discuss examples of the discovery of recently described biological roles of PTMs and address the challenges of defining site-specific functions.

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